Irish rugby chief Philip Browne has upped the ante in pursuit of Rugby World Cup 2023, in a letter posing serious questions of why the technical review group recommended South Africa.
The IRFU chief executive has written to World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper, outlining grave concerns about the process behind the recommendation.
Mr Browne copied World Rugby Council members on his letter, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, to inform delegates who take part in the crunch vote next Wednesday.
The technical review group’s report was introduced for the first time for the 2023 tournament, in an attempt to make the process as transparent as possible.
However, both Ireland and France have criticised the process in the week since South Africa clinched the top spot in the group’s recommendations.
In his letter, Mr Browne insists that Ireland is committed to hosting “a truly unique, spectacular and hugely successful tournament for World Rugby”.
But Mr Browne is looking for specific responses to nine separate questions around issues where the IRFU felt the report came up short.
He questions whether South Africa’s capacity to fill their stadiums formed part of the report.
He also asked if issues surrounding security were thoroughly considered, and whether an “independently recognised, world-class security organisation” was used to review the underlying situation in each country.
Mr Browne asks how the decision to take the 2022 Commonwealth Games off Durban merited so little mention in the report, and whether South Africa’s ‘junk’ status was properly taken into account.
He asks that World Rugby remind council members that the recommendation is not binding.
Thirty-nine votes are at stake, with the four remaining Six Nations countries (England, Wales, Scotland, Italy) and
the three other SANZAAR countries (Australia, New Zealand, Argentina) holding three votes each.
Six regional associations and the Japanese union have two votes each, while Georgia, Canada, the United States and Romania have one vote each.
The winning country needs 20 votes and if one bid does not achieve this total at the first count, then the bottom bid will be excluded.
Rugby World Cup 2015
An unseen section of World Rugby's technical review into the rival bids for the hosting of the 2023 Rugby World Cup shows Ireland's financial bid closely matched South Africa's.